In response to high demand for professionals with scientific and technical training to understand and work with massive amounts of data, The University of Texas at Austin is set to launch a new online master’s degree program in data science. Pending final approval by UT System and the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board, the new program will be a collaboration between the Department of Computer Science, ranked among the top 10 programs in the country by U.S. News and World Report; the Department of Statistics and Data Sciences, one of the university’s newest and fastest-growing departments; and online learning company edX.
“UT Austin is home to top leaders in diverse disciplines ranging from statistics to data science to machine learning,” said Paul Goldbart, dean of UT Austin’s College of Natural Sciences. “These talented faculty experts are joining together to advance a highly relevant new master’s degree program that will prepare our students for professional success across nearly every industry.”
The Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates that by 2026, there will be a need for 11.5 million more data scientists. Data science professionals tackle projects within organizations as diverse as searching for a COVID-19 vaccine, engineering cybersecurity solutions, and helping publishers and broadcasters understand their audiences’ preferences.
“Data science is the fastest growing career field in the world, and there is a huge demand for experts,” said Michael Mahometa, director of consulting and professional development in the Department of Statistics and Data Sciences. “There are very few aspects of the modern economy that data science doesn’t touch.”
UT Austin’s online data science master’s degree will be the first from a top-tier university to be available for less than the cost of a new economy car. Students who receive admission to the program will be able to complete the degree for about $10,000, in contrast to other competitive, nationally ranked institutions with data sciences degrees, for whom the cost of tuition ranges from $20,000-$70,000. The degree program is designed to offer flexibility, allowing prospective students to attend part time on their own schedules.
“Too often, qualified students forgo graduate study because of factors such as family obligations, the need to maintain an income, or the fear of not being able to afford tuition,” said Don Fussell, chair of the Department of Computer Science. “Our objective when we embarked on this project was to create the first technical data science master’s degree that didn’t force students to make those tradeoffs.”
The Department of Computer Science launched a successful computer science online master’s degree program last year in conjunction with edX. The new program will build on the achievements of that program.
To be admitted into the program, candidates must have completed an undergraduate degree, ideally in science or engineering, and taken the GRE. Program leaders are encouraging candidates with degrees in other fields to apply if they have a passion for data science and work experience in the field.
Applications for the new data science online master’s program will open this summer.